Corporal Punishment as a method of discipline is ineffective – Supreme Court of Sri Lanka

Supreme Court of Sri Lanka ruled on 12th February 2021 that the teacher-in-charge of discipline of Puhulwella Central College of Matara district is guilty of violating the fundamental rights of a student by beating a student and causing a ruptured eardrum.
Accordingly, the teacher was ordered to pay Rs. 150,000 personally while the government was ordered to pay Rs. 500,000 to the student within six months.
The fundamental rights petition was filed by the parents of the 15-year-old victim, Hewa Maddumage Karunapala and Pallekkamkanamlage Dona Kumuduni against six persons including teacher Jayantha Premakumara Siriwardana and principal M. Leelawathi. Counsel Thishya Weragoda appeared for the petitioners.
The panel of Supreme Court judges comprising justices S. Thurairajah, Sisira de Abrew and Murdu Fernando decided that the student’s rights under Article 11 of the constitution of Sri Lanka had been violated.
Article 11: No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
“The Supreme Court in a lengthy judgement delivered today went on to hold that corporal punishment is not a method of disciplining students and there is a responsibility on the State to ensure its eradication,” counsel Thishya Weragoda noted on social media.
Justice Thurairaja PC J held;
“Corporal Punishment as a method of discipline is ineffective for multiple reasons. It is used by adults for the simple reason that physical violence is more likely to bring instant compliance. This method of correction teaches children to fear violence and normalises violence as opposed to bringing any sense of understanding of the wrong committed or of the true societal value of discipline. The behaviour is avoided in the future not due to understanding of the wrong committed but due to the trauma of violence. Encouraging corporal violence normalises violence, undermines the dignity of a child, and inflicts trauma in children which is reflected in unhealthy and disruptive behaviour as adults. Corporal Punishment disregards the integrity, autonomy, and dignity of each child.
“We must also recognise that adults are protected by law from similar incidents as it would amount to criminal use of force, assault, and other crimes against the person. Children as minors and vulnerable members of the society, when hit, injured, traumatised in the name of discipline or punishment, must not be left defenceless and unheard when faced with such violence. Normalising violence as in the instant case is unacceptable as this leaves voiceless minors vulnerable in the face of mental and physical violence and trauma, and we, as an institution of Justice would be failing in our duty to allow for such normalisation of violence and victimisation of children.”
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